Displaying items by tag: Saxophone - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection http://www.jazzreview.com Mon, 22 May 2017 18:32:46 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Somewhere in Between by Bob Reynolds http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-spotlights/somewhere-in-between-by-bob-reynolds.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-spotlights/somewhere-in-between-by-bob-reynolds.html Somewhere in Between by Bob Reynolds
As a saxophonist, Bob Reynolds has worked with a diverse array of artists in both pop (John Mayer, Michael Buble, Usher, Amos Lee, Jessica Simpson, Willie Nelson, Guy Sebastian) and jazz (Richard Bona, Tom Harrell, Brian Blade, Aaron Goldberg, Reuben Rogers, Eric Harland, Gregory Hutchinson). Reynolds is also an award-winning composer with 4 albums of original material and 4 ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Awards to his credit. He graduated with honors from Berklee College of Music and currently lives in Los Angeles.

As a saxophonist, Bob Reynolds has worked with a diverse array of artists in both pop (John Mayer, Michael Buble, Usher, Amos Lee, Jessica Simpson, Willie Nelson, Guy Sebastian) and jazz (Richard Bona, Tom Harrell, Brian Blade, Aaron Goldberg, Reuben Rogers, Eric Harland, Gregory Hutchinson). Reynolds is also an award-winning composer with 4 albums of original material and 4 ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Awards to his credit. He graduated with honors from Berklee College of Music and currently lives in Los Angeles.

It's been nearly one year since we went into the studio to record this album.

It's been nearly two years since I began talking with producer Matt Pierson (Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau) about what this album would be.

It's been even longer since I began jotting down configurations for who might play this music, what songs would go on this album, and what the overall concept would be. Longer still since some of these tunes were born.

I knew it was going to be a great album; I got the best people for the job. I naively thought this might be the record that caught the attention of a Blue Note, Nonesuch or Concord Records.

Not because one needs a record label to release music these days.

Anybody can put their music on iTunes. All my records are available online. But if you want to reach a wider audience, get promotion, tour effectively, and make more records, you need help. Or you need to be independently wealthy.

I discovered jazz during the height of the young lion era. Wynton Marsalis paved the way in the '80s; Joshua Redman, Roy Hargrove and Christian McBride carried the torch in the 90′s, and for awhile, every decent jazz musician in New York was putting out records — for a label — and touring.

Those days are gone.

But there's a big upside: I get to make whatever music I want with whomever I choose. You can't get dropped when you've never been picked up.

My style doesn't fit neatly into a category like acoustic, straight-ahead, mainstream, contemporary or–God-forbid–smooth jazz, so it's a blessing I don't have to make music to please a particular record label.

I don't have anyone telling me to make radio edits, use certain "marquee" players, what tunes to play, or that I'd sell more tickets/albums if I just wore leather pants and walked through the audience playing my sax high above my head.

That is something to be grateful for.

I'm also very grateful there are people in the world who dig my music. And thanks to technology, we're able to communicate directly.

I'm beyond grateful to find myself in such talented company. To have musical friends and compatriots who not only understand my vision, but bring such life, intensity, and personality to it.

Does it take longer to produce and manufacture high-quality albums on your own? Yes. Will that prevent me from doing it? No. I only wish I could increase the pace of my output (hence the lament for a label [read: bank]).

People love to talk about how "easy and cheap" making music is thanks to laptops, home recording software and the web, but the fact is it costs considerable sums to hire the best musicians, engineers and studios.

You can buy tools and materials at Home Depot, but does that mean you should build your own house?

Anyway, there's a track below in the YouTube media box we are all very excited about. I hope it makes you smile.

]]>
morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Morrice Blackwell) Jazz Spotlights Mon, 12 Aug 2013 12:53:16 -0500
Romance Language by Kirk Whalum http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/smooth-jazz-cd-reviews/romance-language-by-kirk-whalum.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/smooth-jazz-cd-reviews/romance-language-by-kirk-whalum.html Romance Language
"They Say It's Wonderful," the first track on this marvelous new record from Kirk Whalum, opens cleverly with a sample (or a fresh recording made to sound like a sample, complete with the scratchy LP and old AM radio speaker sound effects), of McCoy Tyner's piano at the top of the classic John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman cut of the same tune from their eponymous 1963 record that serves as Whalum's inspiration.  But following that clip, nothing further is lifted directly from Coltrane and Hartman except the spirit of excellence in musicianship and the mellow, romantic mood. Whereas Coltrane and…

Kirk Whalum fans will find much to love about Romance Language as Kirk is in his usual smooth, soulful and elegant groove. He wisely sticks to his own sound and sensibilities instead of trying to channel Coltrane. In fact were it possible we might think instead that Coltrane went "back to the future" to capture some of Whalum's sound for the original on which Coltrane plays with a breathy spareness, long before the saxophone and smooth jazz became so friendly with each other. Both are similarly reserved when underscoring the vocals and relaxed when blowing their own solo choruses, knowing that on these romantic tunes, less is very much more.

A big difference between the Coltrane/Hartman effort and the Whalum's is the orchestrations (and, of course, modern recording and mixing technology).  The Whalums use new rhythmic treatments (e.g. Latin); use the rounder, bubblier sound of the Fender Rhodes in lieu of Tyner's piano on several tunes; and add some other instrumentation such as strings, guitar, percussion, winds and brass. These updates add both sparkle and richness.

Another big difference is vocally: Kevin Whalum is a tenor with a little airiness and texture in his tone whereas Hartman was a buttery smooth baritone. When Coltrane and Hartman recorded, Coltrane was the better known of the pair; and so too today Kirk Whalum is much better known than his singing brother Kevin. Yet Kevin, like Johnny Hartman before him, shows that notoriety is an insufficient gage of talent; both sing beautifully well and often make you think their records are vocal features that also happen to have a famous saxophone player in the band.

Romance Language also features four additional songs that extend the love. A highlight among these is "Almost Doesn't Count," a lost-love blues by Guy Roche and Shelley Peiken first recorded by R&B star Brandy on her 1998 release, Never Say Never. Here we are treated to vocals by Kirk's 83-year-old uncle, Hugh "Peanuts" Whalum, singing with an I've-been-there honesty that makes the tune even more poignant. "I Wish I Wasn't" is classic Whalum instrumental sax while "I Wanna Know" quotes cleverly from the old Minnie Riperton pop hit, "Lovin' You." The closer is "Spend My Life With You," a bluesy slow-dance anthem that deftly mixes both the Fender Rhodes and a Hammond B3 organ under Whalum's pining tenor sax.

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman would no doubt approve of this modern take on their original collaboration. Romance Language is excellent, lights-down-low smooth jazz, full of class and heart.

]]>
morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Brian S. Lunde) Smooth Jazz - CD Reviews Sat, 14 Apr 2012 21:26:30 -0500
Kim Waters In Conversation http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-artist-interviews/kim-waters-in-conversation.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-artist-interviews/kim-waters-in-conversation.html Kim Waters In Conversation
Kim Waters has always had a way of captivating his fans with his infectious melodies and outstanding showmanship.  On his new CD, 'This Heart of Mine', he again harnesses his hallmark vibe by putting out another set of grooves that his fans will absolutely love. Each track is beautifully arranged, and compliments Waters undoubted talent as the 'King of Smooth Urban Jazz'.

Kim Waters has always had a way of captivating his fans with his infectious melodies and outstanding showmanship.  On his new CD, 'This Heart of Mine', he again harnesses his hallmark vibe by putting out another set of grooves that his fans will absolutely love. Each track is beautifully arranged, and compliments Waters undoubted talent as the 'King of Smooth Urban Jazz'.

JazzReview: How did you get started in the music industry?

Kim Waters: I started when I was young, around seven or eight years old, on the violin and I switched to the saxophone when I was around eleven.  From there, as teenagers, me and my brothers had a band and traveled up and down the east coast performing at a lot of hotels as well as in Atlanta City.  We became pretty popular.  When I was about nineteen, I moved to New York and became a session player on a lot of people's records.  Before I knew it I had a record deal.

JazzReview: So at this point you broke away from the family and began to play solo?

Kim Waters: No, we actually continued playing together and were booked to play in North New Jerseyat a casino which was at that time was called the Playboy Casino.  We were booked as the house band and played there for quite a few years.  We literally moved toNew York and on our times away from playing the casinos we played sessions inNew York together.

JazzReview: You began playing the violin at an early age so was there reason for switching from the violin to the saxophone?

Kim Waters: Well, actually, I like the violin but when I started playing everyone was teasing me in the neighborhood for playing the violin so I switched to the sax and the rest is history.

JazzReview: I know we talked briefly about it but what were your early musical experiences and the education behind those musical experiences?

Kim Waters: I was fortunate to live near one of the great jazz pianists.  By the time I was twelve or thirteen he would literally take me to the clubs where he played at.  This guy played with all the greats from Dexter Gordon to Charley Parker.  He really got me into learning the traditional jazz stuff as well as the contemporary stuff.  It was a great opportunity to have someone like that to take me to the clubs.  There was also a great saxophone player in Baltimore by the name of Mickey Fields and he took me under his wings when I was about fifteen.  He would play at the clubs and before the end of the night he would say "alright let the kid play for the rest of the night".  That's how I got into the music scene.

JazzReview: Which reed or vibes players, arrangers or leaders influenced you the most?

Kim Waters: I guess by main influences for saxophone was Parker, Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane.  As far as contemporary players are concerned it would definitely be Grover Washington, David Sanborn, and Stanley Turrentine who was a good friend of mine.  Those guys really paved the way for all of us.

JazzReview: What is the most interesting part of your life as a musician?

Kim Waters: The most interesting part is when you are on stage and the people are there and they are smiling and you know you have to smile as well, even if you have had a hard week or hard day.  When they come to the show that's their way of letting loose and enjoying the music.  When your music is making them happy then it's a great feeling.

JazzReview: Do you find it different playing here in the United Statesas opposed to going overseas?  Do you find the audiences different?

Kim Waters: Well you know some audiences are different from others.  In certain places in Europe you'll find that the audience they won't clap until at the end of the show.  But at the end of the show you'll get a standing ovation for about ten minutes.  Then here in the states it's a party at every show.  Everybody's going crazy after every song.

JazzReview: It's been almost two years since we heard from you so it's good to hear from you again.  Your new CD 'This Heart of Mine' is absolutely wonderful.  The opener 'Heart Seeker' has a soulful sound which to me sets the tone.  You have also included 'Empire State of Mind' and I understand your wife is featured on the song. When you are planning a CD such as this how do you decide what songs to write or record?

Kim Waters: For this CD I wanted to take my time and sit in the studio and vibe on my own.  The whole CD is pretty much me.  As far as the covers I try to take the songs that were hot during that year and of course 'Empire State of Mind' was one of those.  The R Kelly hit 'Love Letter' was another.  I try to do a set on them and make them a little different.  Hopefully they will do well.

JazzReview: Sometimes you hear an album and you begin to pick which track you like best.  When I did that for this CD it was every one of the tracks.

Kim Waters: Everyone says that.  I'm just grateful that people appreciate it, that the CD is warming to their ears and that they will come out to the live show.

JazzReview: I have an opportunity meet a lot of young musicians and interview them.  Do you have any tips for a young musician who wants to start a career in the music industry?

Kim Waters: I think the main thing for a young saxophone player coming up is don't just start with someone like me or Gerald Albright as your main influence.  Go back and study the history.  Learn from Cannonball Adderley, from Coltrane, Sonny Stitt, Lester Young and people like that.  That's where it all comes from.  If you can play that stuff then the contemporary thing is going to be so easy.

JazzReview: That's such good advice.  Our young musicians do just as you say.  They don't go back in history.  Even though the players they are imitating are excellent they just don't go back to study the history.

Kim Waters: Yes, I agree.

JazzReview: I understand that on 'This Heart of Mine' you play every instrument from the sax to the keyboard, to the drums to the guitar, bass and the vocals.  How did you do all that?

Kim Waters: I guess that's the benefit of having your own studio.  You can take your time and get it right.  That's just what I did.  I studied all those instruments coming up.  You have to take some of those courses in college where you study a little bit of every instrument.  I just studied them all.  I am just glad to be blessed to play an instrument and make it sound the way it's supposed to sound.

JazzReview: You have a flare for composing very seductive melodies.  Are these expressions of love or experience or messages of love to your audience?

Kim Waters: I think most of them are messages.  We are very close knit as a family and of course love is a big factor of that.  It goes hand in hand.  It's like a friend says, if it works don't try to do something else.

JazzReview: You have been known as the 'king of smooth urban jazz' but I understand you can also stand up to any one when playing straight ahead jazz.

Kim Waters: Well, I guess they gave me that title and I appreciate it.  I just want to do good music.  I think it's both good and bad to put music in a category.  When my first CD came out there was no such thing as smooth jazz.  My CDs have played on jazz radio and they have also played on R&B stations.  Once they start categorizing you, it places you into one track or program.  My CDs are meant for everybody and my biggest audiences from the mid 80's up until now have been fans of both R&B and jazz.  I want people to listen to the music and say it's a great CD, not to try to put it into any category.

JazzReview: What lies ahead for you, both with short term or long term projects?

Kim Waters: I have been approached to do some acting.  People have always asked me about it, they say I have that look.  I don't know if will be able to remember the lines.  A couple of guys have asked to represent me.  I'll think about it more when I return fromLondon.

JazzReview: What is your aspiration at this point in time?

Kim Waters: I just want to stay consistent and help my daughters in the right direction in music, to live life and be happy.

JazzReview: Thank you so much Kim Waters for an excellent interview

 

]]>
morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Beatrice Richardson) Jazz Artist Interviews Wed, 18 Jan 2012 13:23:41 -0600
Aaron Bing - In Conversation http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-artist-interviews/aaron-bing-in-conversation.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-artist-interviews/aaron-bing-in-conversation.html Aaron Bing - In Conversation
The blistering new album from rising sax-star Aaron Bing is titled 'Rebirth' and in many ways that's exactly what it represents. Bolstered by a discography that stretches back to 2005 and his debut release 'Always' Bing has come roaring back with a collection as good as anything you will hear this year. When recently I got the opportunity to talk with him from his home in Jacksonville, FL I was eager to understand the creative process that underpinned this latest project.

The blistering new album from rising sax-star Aaron Bing is titled 'Rebirth' and in many ways that's exactly what it represents. Bolstered by a discography that stretches back to 2005 and his debut release 'Always' Bing has come roaring back with a collection as good as anything you will hear this year. When recently I got the opportunity to talk with him from his home in Jacksonville, FL I was eager to understand the creative process that underpinned this latest project.

"I had been touring extensively," Aaron told me, "on the road with Frankie Beverly & Maze, Brian McKnight, Patti Labelle and Jeffrey Osborne. I decided to take a back seat from all that for a while and work on my own music. For me compositions can happen any time but it was over an eighteen month period that 'Rebirth' really came together."

"How would you describe your own music" I asked.

"For me" Aaron explained, "my music works best when it reflects my personality. It's about striving for that perfect melody, you know, mirroring the way I am feeling at that precise moment. Some things always remain the same, for example all my music is original, self-produced and reflects my personality. It's very much a part of me."

I  noted that 'Rebirth' had been released on his own independent label, Century Records, and wondered what life was currently like for an independent artist such as Aaron Bing.

"I have been trying to build the Century Records label for almost seven years" he said. "I feel it is important to have an outlet for my creative vibe. This time around it's a little different because I have a distribution deal with Universal. With their backing I'm expecting that the exposure the album receives will be that much greater. The first single to be offered to radio is 'Out On The Town' and Universal believes it has the radio friendly qualities to do very well. Ordinarily my music tends to be somewhat more ballad orientated. A good example would be the track 'Timeless'. It has what I like to think is a very natural sound and, what's more, we did in only one take.

I agreed that 'Timeless' is a really outstanding track and commented that when I listen to the music of Aaron Bing I hear snippets of Kenny G, Boney James and Euge Groove. I wanted to know who, or what, inspires him to do what he does. 

"It all started out when I was a kid at my grandmother's house," Aaron shared. There was this old clarinet under the bed so I hauled it out and tried to get a sound out of it. Then I heard Kenny G and made an instant connection. As you would expect, many of the kids in school were heavily into rap and R & B. For me, from 9th grade and through to high school I was pretty much locked into jazz. I played talent shows and in that way developed my playing." 

A little known fact about Aaron Bing is that he once closely missed out on breaking the Guinness world record for the longest continuous note to be played on a saxophone. I questioned Aaron on how that had come about.

"Well" Aaron told me "the technique for playing long continuous notes is called circular breathing. It's like an 'in through the nose' and 'out through the cheeks' kind of a routine. Back in 1997 Kenny G set the record for holding an E-flat for 45 minutes and 47 seconds but this was later surpassed by Vann Burchfield. My attempt was during the David Letterman show and at the hotel prior to the event I had actually held the note for a world record time. However, the arrangement was we would attempt the world record outside the Ed Sullivan Theater where the weather conditions were not that great. That can affect the reed and in the event we came up short at just over thirty nine minutes."

Aaron Bing has also played a significant part in the relief effort to support the people of disaster torn Haiti. Released in March 2010, his tremendous three track collection, 'Hope for Haiti', remains available on iTunes and combines the timeless 'Amazing Grace' with fine re-mixes of the enchanting 'Missing You' from his 2005 album 'Always' and the equally spine tingling 'Cover Me' from the 2009 collection 'Secret Place'. I asked Aaron what had moved him to get involved.

"It is a project that remains very close to me heart" he confided. "I had already been thinking about a gospel project and possibly working with Wyclef Jean. Of course Wyclef comes from Haiti but that aside the enormity of the tragedy which was unfolding there was just too strong to ignore. I am still connected with the non-profit Haitian American Nurses Association and will continue to help in whatever way I can."

I asked Aaron about his own ambitions for the future and the challenge of breaking into the smooth jazz mainstream.

"In the last twenty years jazz has really changed" he opinioned. "Players like David Sanborn paved the way and now a new crop of saxophonists are taking it on. It's tough. It's a journey. It's important to be true both to your talent and to yourself. On the other hand, the internet makes it easier for independents to get their music out there and technology makes mastering and mixing much more do-able.

"And a word of advice for those making that same journey" I queried.

"Practice and practice" he said simply. "Give yourself a chance to be the best and then make it happen."

With 'Rebirth' Aaron Bing has not only showed himself to be one of the best around but has also delivered one of the outstanding albums of the contemporary jazz year.

]]>
morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Denis Poole) Jazz Artist Interviews Sun, 04 Dec 2011 16:23:11 -0600
Elan Trotman - In Conversation http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-artist-interviews/elan-trotman-in-conversation.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-artist-interviews/elan-trotman-in-conversation.html Elan Trotman - In Conversation
When, in 2009, saxophonist Elan Trotman released the album 'This Time Around' it was his first concerted foray into the realms of contemporary jazz. The follow up 'Love And Sax', which hit the streets earlier this year, further demonstrated the penchant he has for creating an atmosphere through his music that is both relaxing and sensuous. When recently I met with Elan at the Cinnamon Club in Altrincham, UK (where he had just captivated an appreciative the audience with his performance as part of Peter White's touring band) I was eager to learn more about this most interesting of artists…

When, in 2009, saxophonist Elan Trotman released the album 'This Time Around' it was his first concerted foray into the realms of contemporary jazz. The follow up 'Love And Sax', which hit the streets earlier this year, further demonstrated the penchant he has for creating an atmosphere through his music that is both relaxing and sensuous. When recently I met with Elan at the Cinnamon Club in Altrincham, UK (where he had just captivated an appreciative the audience with his performance as part of Peter White's touring band) I was eager to learn more about this most interesting of artists and in doing so went right back to the beginning.

"Although your first excursion into contemporary jazz was in 2009" I began, "you had, by then, already released three other albums".

"Yes, my first release was back in 2001, titled 'Memories' he said. "Being from Barbados, I used it to fuse Caribbean music with jazz. The second, 'Let's Have A Good Old Time', focussed on more traditional jazz themes and also included some gospel. Kirk Whalum appeared on it. My third album was a Christmas project, sort of festive reggae you could say."

I was curious to know what was the driver had been for a switch to contemporary jazz.

"It was all about following my own musical direction, the genre felt right for me but I still wanted to be different, to come up with a sound that stood out from the crowd."

I complimented Elan on his performance that evening with Peter White. It was the first date of fourteen that Peter was scheduled to play on his latest UK tour and I was interested to know how Elan had become acquainted with him.

"We met at a festival in Atlanta where we were both performing" he told me. "The idea of me joining him on the tour sort of stemmed from there. I have played with him a couple of times since so I wasn't starting out from completely cold. It's nice to be back in England again. In fact I was here in the summer. I played sax at a friend of mine's wedding in the city of Birmingham."

"You mention Barbados" I reminded Elan. "When did you relocate to the USA?"

"I moved to Boston in 1998 where I studied music education at Berkeley. From there I stayed in the city and took up a teaching post with the Boston Public Schools System. My wife and I now have two children, age four and six, and Boston is home.

"For how long did you continue to teach?" I asked.

"Well, as a matter of fact," Elan explained "I stopped teaching to become a full time musician less than a year ago. Leaving teaching for music was, for me, taking a chance. I talked to Cindy Bradley about it. Cindy plays trumpet on the track 'Oasis' from my 'Love And Sax' CD but more to the point she is also a teacher, in New Jersey. When you are starting out the prospect of becoming a full time musician is very attractive but, like everything else, the timing has to be right."

"Did the move feel risky" I wondered.

"Sure it felt risky" Elan agreed. "To an extent it still feels risky but things are beginning to happen now. It's great to be here playing with Peter and I am about to start work on another CD."

I was eager to know more.

"This time I'm taking it back to my roots" Elan informed me, "back to the islands, sort of contemporary jazz with a tropical twist. We are going back to Barbados for Christmas and I'm expecting the inspiration that those surroundings are sure to provide will kick-start the creative process. Then in January I'm sitting down with Jeff Lorber in LA to work on a couple of tracks."

If past projects are anything to go by then the results are not only likely to be spectacular but also seem destined to project Trotman further into the smooth jazz mainstream.

]]>
morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Denis Poole) Jazz Artist Interviews Wed, 02 Nov 2011 15:50:05 -0500
Accidental Shrines by Chance http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-spotlights/accidental-shrines-by-chance.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-spotlights/accidental-shrines-by-chance.html Accidental Shrines by Chance
...
]]>
morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Morrice Blackwell) Jazz Spotlights Wed, 30 Jun 2010 19:00:00 -0500
room 13 by Yair Loewenson Trio http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-spotlights/room-13-by-yair-loewenson-trio.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-spotlights/room-13-by-yair-loewenson-trio.html room 13 by Yair Loewenson Trio
Yair Loewenson was born in Haifa, Israel, and has been playing, composing, and teaching music professionally since his late teens. Jazz has always ...

Yair Loewenson was born in Haifa, Israel, and has been playing, composing, and teaching music professionally since his late teens. Jazz has always been his main genre, along with late classical and contemporary compositions. His extensive track record on stage includes various ensembles: duets, trios, big-bands, and everything in between. He performs in concerts and festivals in Israel and Europe and plays double bass, electric bass, and guitar. Most recently, he launched his debut trio album Room 13, which he has solely composed and produced.

]]>
morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Yair Loewenson) Jazz Spotlights Tue, 30 Jun 2009 19:00:00 -0500
The Acoustic Sessions DVD/CD by Panos Vassilopoulos Acoustic Sessions Trio http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-spotlights/the-acoustic-sessions-dvd-cd-by-panos-vassilopoulos-acoustic-sessions-trio.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-spotlights/the-acoustic-sessions-dvd-cd-by-panos-vassilopoulos-acoustic-sessions-trio.html The Acoustic Sessions DVD/CD by Panos Vassilopoulos Acoustic Sessions Trio
A native of Athens, Greece--Panos Vassilopoulos has previously been most known for his educational DVD releases, including "Ostinatos and Polyrhyth...

A native of Athens, Greece--Panos Vassilopoulos has previously been most known for his educational DVD releases, including "Ostinatos and Polyrhythms," and "A Step Further" which Modern Drummer magazine proclaimed was, "pushing the kit to new heights!" A self-taught drummer, Vassilopoulos takes his inspiration from such legends as Buddy Rich and Ian Pace. His passion for Jazz styles of music is pervasive throughout all of his educational products and in 2009 he formed The Acoustic Sessions Trio and released the double CD/DVD release, The Acoustic Sessions. Filmed in high definition in one of Athens’ top studios, "The Acoustic Sessions" allows Vassilpoulos to thrive and explore such memorable Jazz standards as Cole Porter’s "I Love You" and Jimmy Van Heusen’s "Darn That Dream." The Acoustic Sessions also features an original composition from Vassilopoulos. "Interplay" is a mixture of acoustic drums played with hands, brushes, sticks and mallets creating a cinematic bed of sound crated on the spot. Endorsements: The Dualist Company, UK Modern Music School, Polyrhythmia Music School in Greece. Greece

]]>
morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Panos Vassilopoulos) Jazz Spotlights Tue, 30 Jun 2009 19:00:00 -0500
World Rising by Ben Dowling http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-spotlights/world-rising-by-ben-dowling.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-spotlights/world-rising-by-ben-dowling.html World Rising by Ben Dowling
Jazz pianist and composer Ben Dowling takes the long view when it comes to music and his artistic-life journey. Born in Arkansas, raised in New Yor...

Jazz pianist and composer Ben Dowling takes the long view when it comes to music and his artistic-life journey. Born in Arkansas, raised in New York, Vermont and Boston but settled in Los Angeles, Dowling smiles at his conflicting geographical history, "so Im this Southern white boy who knows how to shovel snow design synthesizers and play jazz. Go figure..."

The one thing this player does figure is how to push music to the next level. Whether from the synthesizers he's designed (Korg M1 Wavestation Oasys etc.) the multimedia and film projects he's scored (United Nations documentaries and interactive games) or in his producing and keyboard playing Ben knows how to push the envelope forward while being true to the musical essentials.

"It truly is not about me. It's about the music and where it needs to go" he says.

With "World Rising" his new CD to be released on August 11 Ben takes his music exactly where it needs to go - creating a refreshing Weather Report and Herbie Hancock-inspired fusion of jazz world and funk with top jazz talents including Mindi Abair the late Carl Anderson Niki Haris Will Kennedy Satnam Ramgotra Bob Sheppard and a host of other friends from the World Music and Funk universes. World Rising is getting a substantial lift this summer with radio play and targeted performances in the US in addition to Ben's appearances at the Montreax Jazz Festival and at concert venues across Europe and Asia.

Trained in classical piano and organ at an early age Ben discovered the music of Miles Davis Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett at 14 later studying improvisation from Ran Blake at New England Conservatory piano performance at Boston University and composition from pianist composer and jazz educator Calvin Jackson.

As a jazz pianist a synthesizer programmer and in all his musical endeavors - Ben has had quite a ride from playing funk with Earth Wind & Fire's Al McKay to programming sounds for Madonna and Weather Report's Joe Zawinul to his wide-ranging discography including recordings from Tom Coster Freddy Hubbard Yellowjackets Jon Anderson (Yes) and the late Michael Jackson - while performing worldwide at top venues including: Lincoln Center The Greek Theater Hollywood Bowl the Montreax Umbria Jakarta and Mt. Fuji Jazz Festivals.

World Rising is thematic of a lifelong mission of bringing different creative elements together in new and innovative ways. "Real innovation comes from bringing things together that don't usually keep company and taking the time for inspiration to reveal itself" Ben says. "That is how new synthesizers are designed and that is how new ideas grow. Entirely new forms spring forth." Another example might be Ben's 2007 multimedia project "The Path of Peace" with painter Mark Wagner. An ambient art collaboration it casts Ben's solo piano improvisations with visual artist Mark Wagner's video scoring of his original paintings drawings sketches - garnering rave reviews from around the world.

"With World Rising I wanted to design a new kind of World-Soul music that is really great to move to that breaks new ground creatively and that really lends itself to live performance. I'm so tired of music being over-planned over-produced and over structured. Lip-syncing and air guitar are fine for video games but I want to see players take some risks. World Rising is my way of returning the ensemble form to its tradition of "open arrangement" so we can perform at a higher level more available to the magic that makes live performance such a life-changing event."

'

]]>
morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Ben Dowling) Jazz Spotlights Tue, 30 Jun 2009 19:00:00 -0500
This Time Around by Elan Trotman http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-spotlights/this-time-around-by-elan-trotman.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-spotlights/this-time-around-by-elan-trotman.html This Time Around by Elan Trotman
One of the most exciting up-and-comers among his generation of saxophonists, Elan Trotman explores the Contemporary Jazz field in his own way on Th...

One of the most exciting up-and-comers among his generation of saxophonists, Elan Trotman explores the Contemporary Jazz field in his own way on This Time Around, his most impressive CD so far. "The music is radio friendly," says Elan, "but I did not want to limit myself to the usual format. I stretch out, take chances, and add an edge to my solos. I enjoy the genre and the concept but I also break some of the rules because this is how I play live, bringing all of my different influences into the music." While inspired by Arturo Tappin, Grover Washington Jr, and Kirk Whalum, Elans music is never predictable. Throughout This Time Around his playing is full of surprises.

Born and raised in Barbados Elan remembers hearing calypsos reggae and local music in his early days. He started with piano lessons when he was seven taking up the saxophone five years later. When Elan was in high school saxophonist Arturo Tappin became his mentor. "That is when I became more exposed to other genres outside of our native music. Arturo Tappin went to Berklee in the late 1980s before returning to the island bringing back a lot of information. He liked to fuse calypsos and reggae with jazz." Elan was also inspired by Grover Washington Jr. the contemporary musicians who came down for the Barbados Jazz Festival and his own roots in gospel and Caribbean music. While in high school he led his own band eventually forming his own combo Inspiration playing cover tunes at local shows and festivals.

In 1997 Elan was awarded a full scholarship to Berklee by the Barbados government earning a Bachelors degree in Music Education. "At Berklee the most beneficial thing for me was the environment since it is such a melting pot. We all learned from each other taking solos sitting in with people and interacting with each other. I learned to be a well-rounded musician." Because he has always had a passion to be an educator Elan became a teacher in the Boston public school system shortly after he graduated and it is a role that he still enjoys today.

Prior to This Time Around Elan recorded three CDs. His debut Memories has Caribbean music with steel drums a song written in tribute to Arturo Tappin a few funky tunes and some gospel music. Let’s Have A Good Old Time is a gospel jazz album that features Elan’s jazz influences and improvisations on church songs along with modern harmonies given to the often-ancient choral hymns. One special song is a two tenor feature with Kirk Whalum that is inspired by the older Sonny Stitt/Gene Ammons feature on "Blues Up And Down." For the spontaneous project The Reggae Christmas Elan recorded a set of Xmas songs for friends and family but due to the great demand he makes the music available each Christmas season.

As a performer Elan has recorded and performed with such notables as Roberta Flack Brian McKnight Nathan East Don Grusin Peter Gammons and major league baseball pitcher and guitarist Bronson Arroyo. Elan’s love for sports and his relationships with athletes and teams are reflected not only in the group with Arroyo but in him having performed the National Anthem on numerous occasions for such teams as the Boston Celtics the Boston Red Sox the Cincinnati Reds and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He put together a band for NBA star Ray Allen’s wedding and performs annually for Theo Epstein’s charity event "Hot Stove Cool Music." Elan has also played on a nearly weekly basis for the past five years with the wedding band Flipside in addition to leading his own group. In 2008 and 2009 Elan has been the recipient of the award for Best Jazz Male at the New England Urban Music Awards.

This Time Around features Elan Trotman at his most creative melodic and soulful. He wrote or co-composed 13 of the 15 selections which are full of catchy hooks warm melodies passionate playing danceable rhythms and inspiring moments. Among the performances are the melodic "Lil Too Late" the boppish strut of "This Time Around" the celebratory feel of "100 Degrees" the r&bish "With You" the hypnotic "4:05 p.m." and the uplifting "Don’t Stop Believing." Whether it is the joyful "Lovely Day" "Oh How We Were Meant To Be" (featuring the vocal group Ahmir) the interplay between the three horns on "It’s Alright" or the very contemporary "Oh Yeah Do It"

Elan excels in every setting. He is assisted along the way by a variety of talented vocalists musicians (including guitarist Tyrone Chase trombonists Derrick White and Andre Hayward trumpeter Patriq Moody and drummer Nikki Glaspie) and producers to create his most vital recording to date. "I hope to bring this music all over the country and overseas playing at the same festivals as many of my mentors" says Elan. "People know me for giving high energy performances. I want listeners to leave my shows with a smile on their face. And I hope that everyone including people of all ages who might listen to straight ahead jazz smooth jazz rock or gospel to enjoy the melodies and the music on my new record. It is for them."

'

]]>
morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Elan Trotman) Jazz Spotlights Tue, 30 Jun 2009 19:00:00 -0500